Today, expressing that you live with anxiety does not hold the same unfamiliarity or stigma as it may have in years past. Many people have an awareness of feelings of anxiety and are vocal about them, whether it be social anxiety before large gatherings or important events, relationship anxiety around having difficult conversations, or generalized anxiety when it feels like everyone got the instruction manual to life beside you.
The truth is that we all experience some form of anxiety from time to time, and there is a physiological response our bodies are hard-wired to produce which sometimes makes identifying and dealing with anxiety complicated. When we experience stress or anxiety, our body’s autonomic nervous system kicks in.
This “fight or flight” response is an evolutionary trait we have used for our survival for hundreds of thousands of years as a species, but it does little to serve us when our stress or anxiety is caused by things outside of our control or by perceived indirect threats not to our survival, but to our feelings of wellbeing, security, and joy.
The best way to address anxiety disorders is to work with an experienced counselor who you trust and who has experience in this area of treatment. JEM Wellness & Counseling has providers who are experienced in this area, and you can start with a simple intake by filling out this form.
To alleviate day-to-day anxieties, a quick way to enlist our body’s nervous system to work with you is a simple breathing technique called “square breathing” or “box breathing” because you do four steps of the same length. There are innumerable breathing techniques for overall health and wellness, but square breathing is among the simplest to remember and utilize.
Here is a great step-by-step guide from the Cleveland Clinic:
- Breathe out slowly, releasing all the air from your lungs.
- Breathe in through your nose as you slowly count to four in your head. Be conscious of how the air fills your lungs and stomach.
- Hold your breath for a count of four.
- Exhale for another count of four.
- Hold your breath again for a count of four.
- Repeat for three to four rounds.
You’d be surprised just how powerful this technique can be. Give it a try on your way to or from social or professional engagements. Use it before you make a phone call or start a conversation you feel is causing you stress. Try it at night when you can’t quiet anxious, racing thoughts keeping you awake.
When you’re ready to take the next step toward addressing the underlying causes of your anxiety and learning more tools to manage it, all you have to do is contact us at JEM Wellness & Counseling.